What can you do?
process of stress management is one of the keys to a happy and successful life
in modern society. The treadmill of pressures of existing and performing in
contemporary society is quick to dislodge the inner peace necessary for optimum
physical and mental health and the ability to be at our highest level of
productivity and happiness. In her book, The Art of Effortless Living, Bacci
(2000) concluded that the most intense period of learning in a child's life is
between the ages of birth and approximately eight years old. It is during that
period of time in which Alpha waves predominate in the child's brain. Alpha
waves have been related to periods of deep meditation and inner quietness. She
stated that: "It's in that quietness that we can be fully aware and present.
Inner quietness is synonymous with the mind functioning at a higher level .Yet
as adults we sacrifice awareness and presence in the name of performance, and
then we fail to perform at our best because we lack focus. It is time to
recognize that our effortful, anxious, performance-based approach to life
systematically undermines our potential". Techniques for stress
management have been developed to quiet the inner storm.
Stress Management and
order to function at an optimal level, stress management must reduce or control
emotional distress and the consequent physical symptoms that sometimes occur
from prolonged feelings of being overwhelmed or "stressed out". The
uncomfortable feelings which we associate with stress may eventually lead to
chronic forms of anxiety, or anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety
disorder, phobias and panic attacks. Also, chronic stress may cause depression
in addition to the more easily recognized feelings associated with stress.
Medical science is continuing to recognize the importance of stress management
in the management or control of physical illness. As early as 1939, a world
leader in psychosomatic medicine, Franz Alexander was considering that : "mental
stress somehow interacted with the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulated the
entire endocrine system via the pituitary and thyroid". This
"limbic-hypothalmic system" has been hypothesized by modern researchers to
modulate the biological activity of the autonomic, endocrine, and immune systems
in response to thoughts, feelings and expectations.
order to alleviate the conscious distress that many feel in relation to
stressful circumstances and lives, mental health clinicians have developed
stress management programs which incorporate exercise, breathing
skills, relaxation, and good nutritional habits into an individualís daily life,
as well as paying attention to self-talk, beliefs, feelings, assertiveness and
self-esteem. Although the responses to distress are varied and the approaches
are numerous to dealing with it, what has been found to work for one person may
not work for others. Therefore it may be necessary to find a number strategies
for handling stress. The first step is to consider aspects of your lifestyle
which may need to be altered. Environmental concerns may include
Attempting to do to much at one time.
Setting unrealistic time estimates, or
poor time management.
Procrastinating on the unpleasant.
Poor listening skills.
Doing it all yourself.
Unable to say "no".
Trouble letting other people do their job.
Impulsive decision making.
Blaming others and not taking
responsibility for the quality of your own life.
Stress Management Help and
Environmental changes are the first step in effective stress management.
Relaxation training and specific psychotherapy is also available to assist with
your personal stress management goals.
By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist
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